Suzanne’s passion for pets and people leads to career success

With hard work and determination, former veterinary nurse Suzanne Johnstone has climbed the career ladder to success and now, with the support of VetPartners, she has achieved an MBA, a prestigious business qualification, with merit.

As we celebrate International Week of Happiness at Work, Suzanne, a VetPartners Business Development Director, talks about her passion for people and pets….

MY career happiness comes from working for a business with a people-centred culture, where we are encouraged to be the best we can be.

What I love most is that you get to feel like a person who has an impact on the business and the future of the wider veterinary industry.

Through my role as a Business Development Director (BDD), I love developing people and providing them with opportunities to expand their careers, which is something VetPartners supports everyone to do really well.

My career has always been important to me because I have a passion for animals and the wellbeing of people around me. I strive to do the best I can do in all areas of my life, career included.

However, small, I love having a positive influence on the future of the veterinary industry. It is important to me that the veterinary industry develops in a positive way, with patient care and employee wellbeing at the heart of everything we do.

I take my responsibility as a veterinary nurse leader very seriously so I can influence patient care standards and positive working environments within my area of responsibility.

Being a people leader is very important to me, and business development is at the heart of this. If we positively impact the business, the opportunities for our people grow in terms of their careers, development and quality of life.

VetPartners provides all leaders support, but a level of autonomy and a voice to be able to speak up for what they believe in and what we feel is right for people and patients.

In Jo Malone, we are led by a CEO who loves people and is open minded about giving people an opportunity.

Every single person is in control of their own career and journey.

It was an incredibly proud moment for me when I became the first non-vet, who also hadn’t been a former practice owner, to be appointed as a BDD.

With the support of VetPartners, I then decided to take the plunge and study for an MBA to advance my skills and also fill in some skills gaps. It’s been hard work because my job is demanding and I work long hours, but I’m delighted with what I’ve achieved.

VetPartners supported me every step of the way with study time and providing data for a project on skills and recruitment in the veterinary industry.

My confidence and knowledge have been boosted. It showed me that a lot of things I do as instinct are for a valid reason but it’s also given me a move strategic focus, more perspective and it’s also helped me to understand people better.

I am supported hugely by my peers and managers to strive for whatever I want in my career. I feel I can voice my opinion and play a part in the future of the company and so the profession as a whole and this is very important to me. I feel valued as an individual with my own ideas of what my career should be and feel I can be open about where my aspirations lie.

We are treated as an individual, with praise and development in equal amounts. I am challenged so I can grow.

As a BDD, I want to ensure the practice teams in my area stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone so they develop their skills and feel motivated to be the best they can be.

  • Suzanne Johnstone worked as a kennel assistant at the RSPCA Birmingham Animal Hospital while studying for ‘A’-Levels at college. She then accepted a role as a student veterinary nurse at the hospital, working her way up to head veterinary nurse in charge of a 15-strong team of nurses in 2002.
  • She carved a thriving management career, including a spell as a practice manager in Birmingham, before joining VetPartners in 2018.
  • As BDD, she supports the group’s small animal, equine, farm and mixed veterinary practices across the Midlands and Buckinghamshire, and helps to develop careers of people in the practices.

For media enquiries, please contact Amanda Little, VetPartners Senior PR and Communications Manager, on 07970 198 492 or email

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